Conduct Of The Ballot And Reimbursement Of Expenses
We invite respondents to consider whether they agree that ballot procedures, including applications for reimbursement, for Part 5 applications, should match those for applications under Part 3A of the 2003 Act, as outlined above.
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- There were 18 responses to this question. 12 responses agreed with the proposal, 1 disagreed and 5 partially agreed.
- One individual said that taxpayers’ money should not be used to support a community’s administration to take property that belonged to someone else.
- The NHS said that conducting the ballot is a requirement under the 2016 Act and community bodies should bear the cost of this without reimbursement.
- The James Hutton Institute said that the challenges facing urban communities in meeting the ballot procedures should be recognised and mitigated as far as possible.
- Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS) said that they were concerned about the implications that this has for lower income communities who may struggle to fund this up front. To address this, DTAS suggested that the Regulations make provision for expenses to be provided ahead of the ballot.
- DTAS also said that they were concerned that the current ballot provisions mean that it is for the community body to ascertain who is eligible to vote, which is a seriously onerous task, and requires them to access the electoral register in person (a particular issue for communities in remote areas).
- Community Land Scotland (CLS) also suggested the regulations make provision for ballot expenses to be provided to low income communities ahead of the ballot. So doing would avoid placing such communities at a potentially significant financial disadvantage as a consequence of having to fund relevant costs in advance of the ballot. They also shared the concern of DTAS that it will be a seriously onerous task for the relevant community body to ascertain who is eligible to vote.
- One organisation said that consistency across the various right to buy procedures had merit, and that consideration should be given to where records are to be held in the event that a community body does not remain in existence for two years after the ballot deadline. They said it is important that the ballot records are retained securely and in a manner compliant with the Data Protection Act 2018.
- One organisation said there is little reason to diverge from existing right to buy frameworks and that given the end point of this process could be compulsory purchase of the land, there needs to be complete clarity for the land owner.
Scottish Government Response
The Scottish Government view is that the Part 5 ballot process should match the Part 3A ballot process. Both are built on years of experience of community ballots under the 2003 Act, and we believe there is merit in consistency across the various right to buy procedures.